Productive vs Effective

This blog post is written by Anssi Soinu

This blog post is written by Anssi Soinu

Last Sunday I listened to the 'Mob Programming with Woody Zuill' episode of the Hanselminutes podcast (thanks for the great episode Scott Hanselman and Woody Zuill!) and wanting to share the informational wealth, tweeted about it. Very clearly the topic was still hot, and my tweet quickly got several responses:

This initial exchange of tweets became a great conversation (also thanks to all participants there!), and prompted me to open up my thoughts a bit on the issue through a small blog post.

My vision of productivity in the aforementioned context was basically a feature factory where a programmer is hastily pushing out a feature after another, without actually stopping to think whether the feature will give any value to the actual end product. When measured through feature production rate, this would yield quite pleasant statistics. 

But are you then effective? 

After thanking his highly productive developer, the manager then publishes the product to the customers, who after a short while return it and rate the new features useless and the product without actual value. Reviewing the whole situation then would not award the development process with the same merits as using merely productivity as the lens.

Blades often have two edges

This topic naturally has several ways of viewing it, as could already be seen from the tweets, and discussion can easily get quite opinionated. To open mine, I would ask whether one can really always be effective? Mistakes will be made and failures will happen. We are human and that much is normal. My two cents lie in that we should be interested in why we do things. If and when we can source out the root motivation for accomplishing something, we will drive to be effective. Seeking fast feedback can actually turn to seem quite selfish when the objective is just to get confirmation that you're building the right thing instead of the thing right.

Don't share my viewpoint? Please share and continue the discussion!